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Call Back During Business Hours

December 29th, 2012

Meanwhile, Have a TV Dinner

Today I’m fixing pizza at a friend’s birthday party. Should be fun. But I have to admit, lately I’ve started to realize I’m not getting a huge ROI on the things I do for people.

I don’t think I’m generous by nature. Whatever progress I’ve made has been through prayer and effort. I’ve managed to improve a lot. But over the last few weeks it has occurred to me that there are only two people on earth who ever do anything for me. That’s surprising. I don’t think of myself as a martyr or a victim, but it would be nice if someone occasionally gave me a little help, just so I could relax for a short time.

If I need to lift something, I use a hoist, not a friend. I never borrow. I rarely ask for prayer. There are some things I just don’t do, because I would need help. Part of it is my own fault; I don’t ask much. But I know people are not anxious to help.

I know a lot of people whose calls, texts, and emails are usually preludes to requests. They usually contact me because they need things. That’s okay; one of my purposes on earth is to give. But it’s also good to hear from people when they don’t want anything.

This year I didn’t cook on Christmas or Christmas Eve, apart from two steaks for my dad and me. I was too tired. When the holidays roll around, I spend days working so people can show up, do almost nothing, provide almost nothing, and leave without cleaning up. This year I enjoyed being alone on Christmas Eve, watching machining videos. I felt like I was playing hooky.

My parents and grandparents didn’t teach me much, but every so often, one of them said something worth remembering. My grandmother told me that people would always let me continue doing more than they did. They will never say no. That was a valuable insight.

My former church was all about taking. I keep getting more revelation about this. The vast majority of the time, when they talked to the core members, they were pushing them to do more to promote the church. And promoting Trinity Church means promoting the family that runs the church. They didn’t talk all that much about ministering or praying. They said we had to get out there and Tweet and Facebook, to get people to show up, volunteer, and give money. We had to help them get publicity. We had to fill, fill, FILL those seats. It was never about love or grace. It was never, ever about helping people. It was always about using carnal means to pump up the church and help some of the pastors–the ones in the family–succeed.

I don’t think they’ll ever promote any of the other pastors in any meaningful way. I’ve never seen them do it. Maybe I’m wrong. They give them a little bit of promotion here and there, and one of them is more or less in charge of a small branch church that used to be the main building, but not one of them is on the same level as the family.

They’re going to keep using these pastors, and they will keep them small, until they get fed up and leave. Then they’ll pull the same game on whoever replaces them. That’s what I think. Any preacher or performer dumb enough to think those people will help him succeed deserves to remain a slave.

I have a friend they’re trying to con into staying at the church. The other day I pointed something out to him. I asked him how often they talk about his needs and how often they talk about what he can do for the church. They love saying, “We NEED you, bro.” They love that unpaid labor. But when people have problems, they generally don’t help. Once in a while, they do. But there are always strings attached. A sale isn’t a gift. And if God isn’t blessing your church, it doesn’t matter how many underprivileged kids you can con into working for you. It will not work. You should set them free to work at a church which is profitable to God.

A church exists to serve, not to be served. Trinity does not care about the people who worship there. They preach constantly about what people can do for them, and the pretext is that serving Trinity is the same as serving God. How many thieves and pimps on TBN have gotten rich off that same grift? You can serve a church every day all of your life and never serve God. Unless the church serves God, those who serve it serve the devil.

I have been thinking about this in relation to marriage. As I wrote the other day, I went crazy and put up profiles on a couple of dating sites, and the results were actually frightening. They keep sending me obese women who are older than I am. Some normal women have started to appear in the feed, so maybe they try to move the stubborn products first. Not great marketing.

Anyway, two people can get a lot more done than one. One of the purposes of marriage is to provide ONE person you can call on and rely on. God only gave us two hands. Once in a while, it would be nice to be able to say, “Can you handle this for me?”

Our relationships with God are marriages, so I think the issues I face are like the ones he faces. People moan and whine about the things they need (or just want). They don’t ask God what he needs. They take, take, take. And here is this ruined world, which we have turned into a septic tank. There is so much that needs to be done. No wonder he doesn’t listen when we pray for Gucci shoes instead of Ferragamo.

God doesn’t get many of the hot chicks and sought-after bachelors. He gets the least-desirable applicants. The divorcees and widows. The Bible flat-out says the smart and the successful don’t make up much of the body. He gets people who aren’t bright or capable. Like the strange men he gave Gideon; they didn’t even know how to drink water.

It would be nice to go to a party and do nothing except enjoy myself. I wonder if God feels that way. He is the most cheated, abused, slandered being in the universe. There ought to be some way to fight that.

2 Responses to “Call Back During Business Hours”

  1. Aaron's cc: Says:

    Rabbinical advice… Ask your current pastor for his list of congregations within 100 miles that he’d recommend for others. Does he have pastors that he admires?

    Find out about each congregation’s volunteering programs. If there is a particular form of service (or a couple) that you admire, then seek single women who are doing things you would admire in a friend.

    The goal is to reduce a haystack into a few manageable buckets of hay.

    The key is choosing not according to Internet algorithms but for candidates whose beliefs and lifestyle are within a standard deviation of yours.

    There is no 100% match. It’s learning to manage the difference that generates personal growth. An analogy I’ve heard is that the only way to polish a diamond, the hardest substance on earth, is with another diamond. But 95% matches are out there. She’ll grow from learning to deal with your 5% and vice-versa.

    Another frequent piece of advice… don’t rule out the briefly-married-without-children. It’s not fair to fault someone for trying and believing in marriage… and severing it amicably when it became clear that they went into the relationship blindly. Factor in the time since the divorce and the spiritual growth in the meantime. Someone who was marginally religious and got married “because it was the thing to do” shortly after graduating college, but got divorced 18 months later when it was clear that they both overlooked incompatibilities before they walked down the aisle, and she has subsequently found herself in a religious community compatible with yours… is worth investigating.

    Someone once told me that there are three legs that a relationship stands on: goals, values and communication.

    If you have incompatible goals, don’t even meet for coffee. You’re heading in different directions and someone is going to have to kill their own dream.

    If you have compatible goals but incompatible values, don’t even meet for coffee. You will lose respect for each other.

    If you have compatible goals and values… meet for coffee. If you find each other at least “not hard on the eyes”, meet more often. See if each other’s families and friends constitute a support infrastructure that would reinforce your journey toward mutually compatible goals and values.

    The communication issue, Mars/Venus stuff, is tricky.

    Modern society puts communications and chemistry first, and this is bass-ackwards. That’s putting epoxy glue on two objects before seeing if they SHOULD be bonded together. It’s the post-chemistry break-up that rips parts from the original objects, just like ripping apart epoxied items. Love doesn’t conquer incompatibility. That’s pagan Eros/Cupid thinking. Love is about meeting a prospective partner and feeling that you want to give to that person to help them with their goals and to share your mutual journey.

    “Falling in love” is irrational insanity. Getting excited about meeting someone who shares your goals and values… that’s special and a foundation upon which a future can be built.

  2. Leah Says:

    Hi Steve, I have enjoyed reading your blogs (the past few months), tho I have not commented at all. I did find your last statement in the above writing to be profound, and very true. It is sad that God is so abused, slandered and especially – “un-invited” into our daily lives. As the pastor of my church taught yesterday, “when we accept Christ as our Savior, we are immediately commissioned to spread the word of hope to others.” It is imperative the He goes every where with me, lest I be caught in a snare with no way out…
    Best Regards, and Happy New Year! 2013